Irish builders and plumbers merchant group Grafton saw turnover for 2009 fall 26% on the €2.67 billion achieved in 2008, according to a trading update issued this morning.
The group – which owns UK merchant brands Buildase, Plumbase, Jacksons and Selco – had seen falling turnover stabilizing throughout the year, with sales in the second half similar to those achieved in the first six months.
In the second half of 2009, in constant currency terms, Group merchanting turnover was down 14% compared to 24% in the first half. DIY turnover was down 18% in the second half, unchanged on the first half. Manufacturing turnover was down 36% in the second half compared to 49% in the first half.
The UK businesses account for more than 66% of Group sales and in terms of like-for-like sales, there was an improvement compared to earlier in 2009. On a constant currency basis they were down 7% in the second half of the year compared to minus 18 per cent in the first half.
The group reports that trading conditions remain challenging in this market.
However, “green shoots” evident in key UK sectoral indicators such as increased mortgage lending, housing transactions, house building and some house price inflation are being reflected in improving sales across our UK businesses. In Ireland, like for like sales per working day in the second half were down 32% compared to minus 37% in the first half.
While the Group is cautious about the outlook for 2010 it will benefit from the cost reduction and integration programme implemented over the last 18 months. The Group believes it is well placed to capitalise on any improvement in the market.